A flurry of haymaker punches that would make Muhammad Ali proud is what the Indiana Pacers delivered to the Toronto Raptors in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon, beating them 100-83 to tie the first-round playoff series at 2-2.
The passion and energy that was lacking two days ago that led to an embarrassing home loss was back in full force as George Hill and Ian Mahinmi prove to be both series changers, each scoring 22 points, according to Fox Sports. Paul George also added 19 points on 6-for-16 shooting.
As the Pacers tweaked its lineups, employed crisp ball movements and forced as many turnovers as possible even during the first 20 minutes, they looked so much like a different team than the one who dropped games 2 (98-87) and 3 (101-85).
Indiana’s forward George believed it was an expected response after the Game 3 loss. “With this group everybody has to be an option for us, offensive threats, and tonight they were, which made us explode offensively,” he told NBA.com And it truly was a remarkable turnaround from 48 hours earlier. He thought they were ‘very attentive and focused’ in ensuring that they would tie up the series.
Hill — who during the first three games barely made 13 points — missed only two shots, both 3-pointers and went 9-for-11 from the field with four rebounds and three assists.
Mahinmi, meanwhile, had a career-high scoring total, going 9-for-14 with 20 points for the first time ever in his eight-year career. He also collected 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block.
It came as a surprise that Hill and Mahinmi became unlikely candidates leading the charge to dominate the game to victory in the Raptors home arena. Both Hill and Mahinmi contributed to a more balanced offense which resulted to more scoring opportunities throughout the game.
It’s clear that even after ruling games 1 and 2, the Raptors’ playoff ghosts are back to haunt them. Not even the home court advantage can quell the spirits from rising up from the attic. “We didn’t come out with the right disposition in a game where [the Pacers’] backs were against the wall,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told ESPN. ‘We didn’t meet their force with our force.”
Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Toronto.